FAQ

Common questions about starting a side project, finding an idea, and what to do when challenges come along.

What if I don't have an idea?

Don't get so bogged down on not having an idea just yet. Ideas take time and even when you do come up with something, you should let it sit for a couple of days to see if this is something you're truly invested in doing.

College is the time to learn new things, get out of your comfort zone, and venture into doing something new to see how it feels. Immerse yourself in new fields and areas by reading books, listening to talks and lectures, watching movies / documentaries, and engage with the world around you by attending events, conferences, meet-ups, and initiatives on campus. I assure you by putting yourself out there, observing what's going on in the world around you, you'll become more aware of an interest that catches your attention.

What if my idea is unoriginal?

Originality is overrated (in some cases). We definitely encourage you to try something new, but if an ideas has already been done before, what can you do differently? Is there an opportunity that person hasn't tapped into yet? How can you leverage your knowledge and skillset to improve the existing idea?

Chances are, an idea that has already been tried or exists in the real world might not be the exact solution you would have come up with. So explore the idea a bit more and see how you can make it better.

What if my idea doesn't work?

We definitely all have this fear of not trying something because we might be afraid it won't appeal to people or rather it won't "work" at all. If you're afraid of this, try and develop an initial bare-bones implementation of your idea. If it's an app, develop a prototype on paper and test it out on a couple of people. If it's a political campaign, write an article about the topic and share it out to see if interests some people. If it's a business model idea, reach out to an alum or industry professional and see what they think of it.

Do initial research, gauge interest early on, and make use of the resources at your disposal to see if your idea sticks. If your idea might not resonate with people or even with yourself after a while, pivot! Pivoting is the art of transitioning an idea, not killing it. Expand your initial vision by thinking about what went wrong and what you missed out on. This oftentimes allow you to focus on the real problem at hand, not just the initial problem you envisioned solving.

What if I get stuck?

Getting stuck often means getting a creative block. We get this all the time, especially as students. What you shouldn't do is get frustrated with yourself and be victim to analysis paralysis. Don't overthink your progress, but instead take a break from the idea for a little bit. This can be for an hour, a couple days, or weeks. Sometimes, getting so involved in an idea might make you a little crazy on focusing on one thing for so long. Use the time to reframe your goals and get back to your idea when you've taken a good enough time to reflect on what you've already accomplished.

How can I get help with my project?

Submit your project idea here and we'll be happy to take a look at what you're working on.

Feel free to also reach out to Maya Frai (myf4@cornell.edu) or Tina He (mh2335@cornell.edu) anytime. We're more than happy to help you figure things out.